Bariteau Snow

Snow blanketed the stalled Harriman Hotel construction site in Ketchum this weekend. Wintry conditions descended on Blaine County Sunday and—according to the forecast—show no signs of letting up.

Between Tuesday and Saturday last week, Idaho registered four new record single-day increases in confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases, capping off the week with 1,403 new cases on Saturday, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Adding Sunday’s 649 new cases and today’s rise of 1,266, the grand total since March rests at 74,227. Of those, an estimated 40,497 are considered active. State health officials consider coronavirus a contributing factor in the deaths of 698 Idahoans, 18 more since Friday, including 12 today.

The state totals Blaine County’s COVID-19 cases at 942 confirmed and 60 probable, marking a rise of 18 confirmed and five probable since Friday. The South Central Public Health District is currently monitoring 164 active cases in Blaine County.

Keep reading for updates on statewide coronavirus surges, the ongoing investigation into the deaths of Ashley Midby and Jared Murphy, a recent cougar attack on a dog and more top news from Monday, Nov. 9.

• Four public health districts—including the South Central Public Health District, which oversees Blaine County and seven other counties—issued a joint statement warning that recent surges in COVID-19 cases have created severe backlogs and delays for their investigation teams, making it impossible to contact all new reported cases or their close contacts. In some districts, daily averages in cases are tripling. With health officials overwhelmed by coronavirus cases, district leaders are urging the community to follow safety guidelines and help out whenever possible.

• Idaho State Police had no new information to share on Monday as officers continue to investigate the deaths of Bellevue residents Ashley Midby and Jared Murphy in an apparent murder-suicide on Oct. 22. Since then, neither ISP nor the county coroner have made an official determination on whether one of the wounds was self-inflicted.

According to call logs obtained by the Mountain Express, the Bellevue Marshal’s Office responded to an address county records identify as Murphy’s Bellevue home for a “domestic verbal” incident on Monday, Oct. 19, then twice more on Oct. 23. One of those calls resulted in a report that is currently part of ISP’s investigation. Due to its involvement in the investigation, further information could not be shared.

• A mountain lion apparently attacked and killed a family dog near Wild Rose Natural Hot Springs east of Carey last week, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The incident marked the first reported cougar attack on a domestic animal in Blaine County since Aug. 25, when one killed a horse near Hailey. Fish and Game is urging residents and animal-owners to exercise vigilance heading into winter, especially during the early morning and evening hours.

• The Hailey City Council is meeting Monday to determine the fates of two beloved annual events: the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5K and the Hailey Holiday Bazaar. The crowded meeting agenda also features a clean energy resolution, proposed trails in the Simons-Bauer Preserve, construction plans and more.

• The newly formed Big Wood River groundwater committee held its first meeting last week to draft a long-term plan for the collective management of groundwater and surface water in the Big and Little Wood River basins, as well as to resolve some groundwater pumping controversies.

For more local and regional news, visit at any time and look for a copy of Wednesday’s Idaho Mountain Express.